Q&A: Southlake PD’s public information officer on sharing more than just social media posts

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Officer Brad Uptmore of the Southlake Police Department began working as the department’s public information officer in February and has since gained widespread recognition for his creative and humorous posts on the department’s social media pages.

Police Chief James Brandon discussed taking on the public information role with Uptmore after reviewing Uptmore’s prior work with some public service announcements for the city.

“One of the first meetings we had was [Chief Brandon] just said his two main things are we want to humanize the badge and provide transparency, and he said he wanted it to be done in a candid way that people would pay attention to,” Uptmore said.

In an interview with Community Impact Newspaper, Uptmore described how he began to shape the image of the Southlake Police Department.

How has social media changed the way the city operates?

One of the first things [Chief Brandon] said was we need to post stuff—traffic updates—every morning. I want everyone to know where we’re at, like it shouldn’t be a surprise. We’re not trying to write tickets. We’re trying to prevent accidents and get people to slow down. He said you shouldn’t be guessing like it’s on a game show. So, I rolled out a traffic update the next week, and it was in the style of Wheel of Fortune. … [Chief Brandon] liked that because it was exactly what we said we were going to do. We said we were going to do it, and all of a sudden, it’s not a faceless person behind the screen. We’re interacting—you’re seeing that we have a personality. We’re human beings. And it kind of went on from there.

Several of your posts have gone viral, what has that been like for you?

The audience—whenever you look at the analytics of it—you can just see the spikes that we’ve had whenever we hit the home run. I think in February we had 9,000 followers on Facebook, and we coasted over 31,000 [in September]. Twitter is harder to get followers in my opinion, but we’ve gone up from I think around 9,000 to around 11,000 … I like doing original content and I like setting my own trends. That’s worked for us as a whole right now. 

How do you think public opinion of Southlake Department of Public Safety has changed since you have taken over its social media pages?

I think people pay attention now. That’s the mission all along. Whenever we put out a BOLO—Be On the Lookout for—or if we’re looking to ID somebody, it’s a lot easier when you have 31,000 people and their friends seeing what I’m asking you to help me find this criminal versus 9,000. I think people recognize that if they ask a question, we answer, and if they have a problem, we answer.

How do you balance tones of levity and gravity?

The mission we’ve chosen is we want to entertain and inform, and that is a tightrope act. I know the people that pay attention to our posts. … But it’s tough. A lot of times if I have questions, I go to Chief Brandon.

What is your favorite meme?

I like the one with the guy walking with the girl and doing the head turn, you know? It goes for so many things. … When I see [a meme], it’s like, ‘How can we use this in the police role for people to listen?’ More often than not, it’s usually something with traffic. Again, everything we do is pretty light.

More of Uptmore’s posts and videos can be found on Twitter and Facebook.

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Renee Yan
Renee Yan graduated May 2017 from the University of Texas in Arlington with a degree in journalism, joining Community Impact Newspaper as a reporter in July.
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